How Much Does an Ethical Hacker Earn in the United States

Alex Alex 05 June 2022 Follow
How Much Does an Ethical Hacker Earn in the United States

Hackers have made their mark in cyberspace, with their reputation as the bad guys who use unethical methods to cause harm. However, you can't label all hackers together because some use their skills and expertise for good. These individuals are referred to as "white-hat" hackers, "ethical hackers," or "pen testers."

The term "ethical hacking" refers to an attempt to gain access to a computer system, application, or data that has been authorized. Ethical hacking is the practice of mimicking the actions and strategies of malicious hackers. This practice helps detect security flaws that organizations can address before a malicious attacker exploits them.

Who is an Ethical Hacker?

Exploits and vulnerabilities on target systems and networks are the domain of the ethical hacker, a highly trained professional hired for their technical and non-technical abilities. Working with permission from the system or network owners distinguishes ethical hackers from the more dreaded "black-hat" hacker types.

The ethical hacker's responsibility is to adhere to all applicable laws, not just those imposed by system and network owners. The primary objective of white hackers is to evaluate a company's cyber security. An ethical hacker is more commonly known as a Cyber Security Specialist in the formal security industry.

What are the Responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker?

Most businesses and government agencies' daily operations are heavily reliant on technology, which has led to an increase in the importance of data security for these organizations. Ethical hacking entails spotting security flaws and taking steps to keep malicious hackers out of your system and away from your confidential data.


An Ethical Hacker's responsibilities include the following:

  • Classification of the network and system resources.

  • Identification of potential threats to these resources.

  • Devising a plan for dealing with and prioritizing the most serious issues.

  • Defining and implementing methods of minimizing the consequences of an attack.

  • Perform tests on target resources such as web resources, software, and hardware.

  • Keeping all systems up to date and applying the latest vendor patches and service packs.

  • Developing new strategies to counter hacking methods and mitigate all potential threats creatively.

  • Running regular scans for malicious code and other intrusions to keep track of any suspicious activity on the network or systems.

  • Creating and implementing security-related policies and ensuring that the policies are properly enforced.

Why are Ethical Hackers in Demand?

Taking cybersecurity seriously protects a company's and its customer's information and gives the company an advantage over competitors who haven't done the same. In the corporate world, a threat to the organization's competitive advantage is a compelling reason for most decision-makers who are not technology experts to take action. They tend to take cybersecurity seriously right away.

Ethical hackers are systems and network experts in defending against cyber-attacks, putting them at the forefront of cyber-attack prevention. 

Some of the other reasons for the increase in ethical hacker's demand include:

  • Growing adoption of cloud computing, combined with inconsistencies in security patching.

  • Increasingly sophisticated ransomware and other threats.

  • Increasing budget allocations for cybersecurity.

  • Continuing growth in the number of internet users.

Skills and Certification Required for Ethical Hacking

An ethical hacker needs to have a wide range of technology or computer skills. They tend to specialize in a particular area of ethical hacking, becoming subject matter experts (SMEs) in that field.

Some of the skills that all ethical hackers should have are:

  • Proficiency in scripting languages.

  • Knowledge of operating systems.

  • A thorough understanding of networking.

  • A solid foundation in information security principles.

Courses that may be useful along the way include:

  • Ethical Hacking Certification

  • CCSP Training (Certified Cloud Security Professional)

  • Network Certification

  • CISSP- Certified Information Systems Security Professional

  • CISM- Certified Information Security Manager

Ethical Hacking Salary in the USA

Ethical hackers are experts at avoiding malware attacks. Therefore, their demand and skills suggest that they are well compensated, with an ethical hacker's average salary at $105,300, which equates to $50.63 per hour.

However, depending on certifications, experience, education, and additional competencies, that rate can vary greatly. We'll look at how different factors determine an Ethical Hacker's pay and employment opportunities further down.

  • Experience

The salary of an Ethical Hacker is heavily influenced by experience. While many jobs in ethical hacking do not need the candidate to hold a particular degree, many do require extensive work experience in the related field.

An Ethical Hacker who is just starting or has less than a year’s work experience can earn around $68,912 per year, according to PayScale. Someone with one to four years of experience can earn around $81,000 every year.

Ethical Hackers with five to nine years of experience earn around $90,000 per annum. Finally, highly experienced Ethical Hackers with 10-19 years of experience earn around $112,000 per year. These figures include base pay and other benefits such as bonus pay, overtime, etc. 

As an Ethical Hacker, your salary will rise with each year of experience as you hone your skills and learn new techniques. The more challenges an Ethical Hacker overcomes for their company, the more their value within the organization grows.

  • Location

Ethical hacking jobs in the US differ depending on where you work. When the standard of living in an area rises, so does the pay rate, just as it does in other jobs.

Some cities pay more than others for ethical hackers. With an average salary of $140,000 per year, New York City is the highest-paying city for ethical hackers. Most ethical hackers will be paid the most on the east coast, with the following cities paying the most for ethical hackers:

Chicago – $131,000

New York City – $140,000

Alexandria, VA – $135,000

Washington DC – $138,000

Sterling, VA- $128,000

  • Job Title

A job as an Ethical Hacker can entail a variety of responsibilities that are frequently classified under various designations. In addition to the factors we discussed, your designation may have an impact on what you earn. Here are some examples of how much Certified Ethical Hackers earn:

A Network Security Analyst earns anywhere between $41,362 and $106,823

A Penetration Tester is paid between $50,845 and $127,714

A Cyber Security Analyst gets a salary in the range of $48,086 and $118,991

An Information Security Manager gets between $73,241and $153,163

An Information Security Analyst earns between $48,522 and $107,004

A Forensics Computer Analyst can make $42,684 to $118,616

A Security Engineer gets paid between $56,017 and $132,536

  • Education

To become an Ethical Hacker, you can choose from many options. For each company, there is a specific set of qualifications and certifications they expect you to have. However, specialized training and ethical hacking certification can help you have an edge over other candidates for the same position and land a higher remuneration package

Future of Ethical Hackers in the US

Companies may be forced to continue using ethical hackers without qualified cybersecurity specialists. Even in future years, they will continue to be in demand due to the consequent skills shortage. 

Moreover, because all organizations are at risk of being the next target of a cyber-attack, ethical hackers will continue to find work. Companies moving to the cloud will need to beef up their security measures to protect systems that aren't on their premises and thus aren't as secure as those that are.

A bright future for ethical hackers is predicted by industry experts who believe that by 2027 the global penetration testing market will be worth US$4.1 billion.


Ethical hacking is a rapidly expanding field. Some of the largest corporations in the US hire ethical hackers to ensure there aren’t major information leaks or suspicious malware attacks, such as US Army, US Air Force, Google, Target, General Dynamics, Information Technology Inc, Lockheed Martin Corp, and Facebook. 

These highly skilled professionals assist organizations by hacking into their systems in a planned and authorized manner. Their efforts have a significant impact on cybersecurity. Ethical hackers have a lot of options when it comes to finding work. Compared to programmers, the starting salary is low, but the average pay and long-term salary are quite generous.

Certifications and even master's degrees can help ethical hackers earn more money. There are many ethical hacking certification courses available to help you gain a thorough understanding of ethical hacking. You can enroll in the ethical hacking and the CCSP training provided by KnowledgeHut, a leading online training provider.

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